Organizing authority in the climate change debate: IPCC controversies and the management of dialectical tensions

A.J. Porter, Timothy Kuhn, Brigitte Nerlich

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

At the centre of the undeniably contentious debates about climate change lies the question of authority: Which voices will be heard and, thus, who will influence policy, activism, and scientific inquiry? Following high-profile errors found in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Dutch Parliament sought to achieve ‘balance’ in these debates by bringing together climate scientists and skeptics for a set of online discussions. Using both communication and dialectical theorizing, we explore the organizing of authority around climate change in the Netherlands. We locate dialectical tensions and discursive positions of diverse actors in the debate, examining the communication practices by which actors sought to resolve tensions as part of three authoritative moves: bridging, (de)coupling, and resisting. The combination of these authoritative moves failed to engage with – and therefore could not resolve – the sources of the underlying dialectical tensions. We build on these insights to suggest contributions to the climate change debate and theory on authority in organization studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberhttps://doi.org/10.1177/0170840617707999
Pages (from-to)873-898
Number of pages26
JournalOrganization Studies
Volume39
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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